A catering student at North West Regional College who has just completed a work placement at the prestigious Leuven Institute in Belgium, says finding a leaflet detailing the work of the Princes Trust Training Programme at the college, changed his life.
Johnathan Duffy from Greysteel, decided he didn’t want to continue with his Degree in Accounting, was on the dole and not sure what to do next.
He explained: “I was 25 when I decided to study at NWRC and I decided to do it through the Princes Trust Training Programme. I had always had an interest in cooking and the course introduced me to that – from there I was able to progress into Level 2 Professional Cookery and then Level 3.
“Initially I had gone to University to study for a Degree in Accounting but I didn’t like it so I left. I had no job, I couldn’t get work and I didn’t know what to do next.
“One day I found a leaflet for the Princes Trust and everything changed. Once I completed my course with them I went on to study Cookery full time.”
Johnathan said that the help and support he received from the lecturers at NWRC were vital in his progression.
He added: “Douglas Walker, one of my lecturers, was the one who told me that I should apply for Leuven and that it would be a great experience for me.
“My fellow student Adelle Doherty had already been to Leuven and had a great experience.
“For me it was less about the opportunity to travel but more about having the opportunity to learn.
“Travelling with the Erasmus project was a really good experience, I learned a lot about hospitality and about being front of house
“Leuven is a university town, and the Institute is a conference centre which is also used by local businesses. I got on really well there and eventually worked my way up to being supervisor. I’m hoping now to return to Belgium.”
Johnathan said his time at NWRC gave him the opportunity to find the career that he loved.
“He said: “I got lots of support from lecturers Douglas Walker and Barbara McGrath and was able to take classes at both the Limavady and Strand Road Campus.
“It gave me the opportunity to pursue the career I wanted.”
NWRC Lecturer Douglas Walker said that Johnathan is part of a new wave of chefs who have been completely prepared for all the pressures that working in the industry can lead to.
He added: “At NWRC we prepare our students completely for the world of work, and at Leuven Johnathan was able to work not only in the kitchen, but front of house and with food service. It is important that when you are working as a chef you understand everything that is going on the business, especially at the front of house.
“Thankfully the hospitality industry is becoming more flexible with better hours and fewer split shifts, because family life is important too.”
North West Regional College offers a number of Further and Education courses in Hospitality and Catering. Applications are now open for these courses which begin again in September 2018. Apply at www.nwrc.ac.uk/apply